Depression and anxiety remain a pervasive issue in Australia, especially among young people, who are at high risk for suicide, which is the biggest killer among 10 to 24-year-olds. In our fair country there are more people who die through suicide than road accidents, skin cancer or homicide. There are plenty of organisations trying to lower the trends, though. Beyond Blue and hip hop artist Bitter Belief are among them. MERRAN REED spoke to Aaron D’Vaz ahead of his gig at a Beyond Blue fundraiser at Mojos, Sunday, April 20.
A few weeks ago D’Vaz aka Bitter Belief came across a photo in his Facebook newsfeed, it read, “2.6 million Australians experienced anxiety in the last 12 months.” The day before he had to call in sick to work and was told citing anxiety as the reason was not a good enough. “I realised that due to people’s lack of awareness on the issue they don’t understand the possible severity of such a condition,” he said. “I did my post and the amount of support and encouragement it received was impossible to ignore.” Sunday’s event was born out of that.
D’Vaz says as soon as he posted about the show his inbox was flooded with people who wanted to be involved. “I was blown away and it was the driving force behind deciding to do the show,” he said. I chose the people I did because they are talented friends who I know have had direct and indirect contact with the issues we’re trying to help resolve with this show. The people on the bill are some of my favourite artists in Perth and I know they will be just as passionate and dedicated to this as I am. And I thank them for that.”
Starting difficult conversations through music and hip-hop in particular, isn’t a new idea, but in recent years mental illness has been brought to the surface in the Australian hip hop community thanks to artists such as 360 who has written extensively about suicide and depression. D’Vaz says music provides a way to discuss issues that in the past were silent. “I have highs and lows, and in the low times I have definitely noticed that writing about an issue can help to release or let go of those feelings,” he says. “People may notice they feel a lot better after talking about something with loved ones. Imagine if you could take all the time you needed to articulate that conversation perfectly – a conversation with yourself that you later get to convey to a lot of people who may relate. You realise how human you really are.”
Bitter Belief plays the Beyond Blue fundraiser at Mojos, Sunday, April 20.
Get your tickets here.